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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Publishing Games Now: Let's Talk About the Incredible "Band Saga"

The past few months of radio silence has culminated in a fantastic new job for me in Osaka. Active Gaming Media has signed me on as their new Content Manager for their indy game translation and distribution service, Playism. Basically that means I am going to be hunting far and wide across the net and convention centers for indy games that look truly excellent so that we can bring them to foreign audiences. Playism has already put out a lot of really killer games, including Gunhound EX which I wrote about some months ago. Take a look at the library on our site, which is quite big at this point and is full of awesome games that are otherwise not available in their non-native regions.

Having just joined the team, there is still a whole lot for me to learn (my god, the sheer number of names and companies I am going to learn about in the near and far future!), and so I'm still getting up to speed even with some of our current projects. What prompted this post was checking out the Kickstarter for Band Saga, the video for which simple blew my f#&king mind. Have a look at the Kickstarter page, but below I'll borrow the video and some of the images to let you get a feel for what it is.

Band Saga is "a musical action rogue-like of epic proportions." It is a game where you utilize the sounds available to you in the game to create and remix tracks. Those sounds then affect the random generation of the SHUMP levels that you battle across. It's a beautifully drawn and animated game. The colors really pop, as do the sprite animations. The creator, Roger Hicks, has both incredible talent and excellent support from his lead artist Hillmon Ancrum. Right now I am actually listening to the OST on a free stream here and it kicks very much ass.

Roger has some really cool ideas for where he wants his game to go, including simultaneous coop play and asynchronous music collaboration. But it is really the core game mechanic that intrigues me most. I can't wait to get my hands on a build so I can see how the gameplay in this video unfolds for the player. There is more information on the Kickstarter, so go there to find out more about the game and if you like what you see (why wouldn't you? This game looks utterly bonkers) then back it and spread the word.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Republique Free in the App Store; Super Famicom Gaming is Go

I just had a quick post to put up. Two things. First, the other day I got Republique for iOS for free from the US iTunes store. I'm not sure if it is still like that, but I got the impression that it was a limited-time-only kind of thing. I had my eye on that game for a while when it was getting made and it looked really cool, but I didn't want to buy it when it did come out. Heck though, for free I'm happy to download and sit on it until I can get around to playing it. Supposedly it is really good, so if you're inclined give it a look.

Second, I've been playing the heck out of Final Fantasy V on Super Famicom and was thinking I'd like to write something about it when I'm done. I played 4 and 6 when they came out in the US and was absolutely fanatical about them. During the gap between the two I wondered what happened and where the next one was, so right now I'm filling in a gap in my SNES childhood that sort of puts some long-lost puzzle pieces into place. There are a lot of games that only came out in Japan that I have always wanted to play, so now that I have finally gotten off my butt and bought what I need to change the batteries in the cartridges I can finally get to them. Some games I want to play because I haven't seen the original Japanese (like Chronotrigger,  Secret of Mana and FFVI), but others like Front Mission, Romancing SaGa 2 & 3, or the SNES Fire Emblem games never came out in their original format back home. Rather than bumbling through my first experience with SNES-era classics on an emulator, I've waited until I could do them right. It's a project that's a long time in the making and I'm really excited to be moving ahead with it now.

That's something to look out for while I am waiting on my 7th Ed rulebook to arrive. I played a game of 6th the weekend 7th came out (on my birthday, actually. Thanks for remembering, GW!), and it was a great time. Definitely a good way to send off an edition I honestly feel was unnecessary considering it only last two years and wasn't that different from fifth. But until it comes in and I've gotten a chance to read and play with it, I'll be more likely to post about modeling and video games than actual 40k battles.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Review: Armored Hunter Gunhound EX

In case you hadn't noticed, almost all of the non-40k games I've reviewed on this blog have been for indy games. That's mostly because many indy games these days feature a lot of the SNES/Genesis era qualities that I have only grown more fond of as I have gotten older. I like pixel art. I like side-scrolling. I like quick, engrossing action. I like gameplay that rewards experience and dexterity. I like brutally hard games, the ones that make you really, truly angry. And I love the glorious, rewarding feeling that washes over me when I finally beat that boss I've fought two dozen times.

I like old-school games.

Armored Hunter Gunhound EX is a proper old-school game in all of those respects and even improves on the conventions I would have expected in the mid-nineties. I haven't met the creative people behind it, but it seems clear to me that they grew up on the same games that I did. They played those games and learned a lot from them. When it came time to make their own game they did what they knew and what they were passionate about making. They infused an old genre with some genuinely funny humor, characters that are refreshingly round and a plot with turns so mature I found myself questioning whether events were really unfolding the way it seemed. All of this comes across smoothly in the translated English, but if you're inclined you can also switch the settings to Japanese to get the original Japanese subtitles and menus.

Yet for all that Dracure Software innovated on a tried-and-true formula, the game still keeps close enough to its roots that it doesn't overstep the boundaries that attracted me to it in the first place. If you have ever played Target Earth, Cybernator or Metal Warriors then you have an idea of what the game plays like. It's a side-scrolling, mech-based shooter. You have infinite boost on the ground and a gauge for your thrusters in the air. Once you get used to it, you can scoot around the stages with the boost on all the time, wreaking havoc on everyone around you with an arsenal of unlockable weapons. All of the weapons I have unlocked have been useful and I find that no matter what setup I have, I use all of weapons constantly. It's really gratifying to unleash volleys of missiles in between auto-cannon and machine gun fire, and then to zoom in with a power fist to smash enemies in the face.

I did find that I had to set up my controller well in order to get the most out of the controls. There are a lot of buttons and you really need to be comfortable using them all in order to beat levels without dying. I use the MotionInJoy drivers and found out that I had to set it to a normal UID and then assign the buttons in the menu using the keyboard (Z for OK, X for cancel!) in order to play. If you're using an XBox controller, I hear it works fine without any fuss.

Gunhound EX is an excellent game available through Steam. It can also be found through Playism, the direct distribution service of the guys who localized it. Their work bridges the gap between the English and Japanese indy game markets. I know many of their in-house translators and editors and I also know some of the freelancers who translate for them. Their work is fantastic across the board. They've localized other excellent titles such as One Way HeroicsPapers, Please, AstebreedShadowrun Returns, Machinarium, Inside a Star-filled Sky, Jamsouls and the Pixel Junk games, just to give you a (brief) glimpse of their tastes and portfolio.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Rumors: 7th Vehicle Damage and Perils of the Warp Charts

Some new rumors (or perhaps leaks!) that I came across on BoLS a few moments ago. 

The vehicle chart is roughly what I would expect factoring in for the rumored 7+ explodes result. The thing that really caught my eye was (obviously) flyers crashing on a 1-2 out of d6 when immobilized. The old locked velocity rule never sat right with me when damaged mobility should logically make a plane crash. This is a welcome change in my eyes.

The perils chart is interesting, but I hoped it would be a lot more interesting (read: utterly brutal and unforgiving). Psychic powers seem like they're about to get even more useful than they have been. While perils is likely to happen more often with people rolling 5 or more dice and praying they don't double up on sixes, I don't see the need to reward someone for tempting the warp beyond casting the spell they were attempting. That's the inherent reward and it seems sufficient to me. 

I've seen people on the boards who think they're going to summon a million Pink Horrors with fifteen Heralds of Tzeentch. I think they are likely in for a surprise when they nuke themselves and their units too. When not casting powers Tzeentch has very low leadership. This chart would not be terribly friendly to them. Just a few days before 7th comes out (coincidentally on my birthday, though I'll be in Tokyo watching an Uematsu Nobuo concert[!]), so we only have to wait a little longer to see what truth lies behind these rumors. 

via Gary:

Vehicle Damage Table:

1-3 Crew Shaken: vehicle only firing snap shots like normal
4 Crew Stunned: vehicle only firing snap shots and cannot move or pivot. Zooming flyers cannot turn and must move 18". 
5 Weapon Destroyed: as normal and if all weapons have run out of ammunition or or already destroyed count as immobilized
6 Immobilized: Chariots count as Crew Stunned, Flyers 1-2 flyer crashes with Crash and Burn rule. 3+ it counts as crew stunned.An already immobilized vehicle suffering another immobilized result loses an additional hull point.
7+Explodes: D6 radius for a Strenth 4 hit on nearby units. vehicle destroyed

Crash and Burn: lg blast and scatters 2d6 for S6 hits.

Wrecked vehicles are those that lose all their hull points. becomes scenery

Perils of the Warp:
1. Dragged into the Warp: Psyker takes a leadership test, if passed suffers 1 wound or glancing hit no saves.if failed he is removed as a casualty and his unit takes d6 S6 AP1 hits. The hits come from the psyker for allocation
2. Mental Purge: Psyker suffers 1 wound/glancing hit no saves. randomly select one power from the psyker. its lost for the rest of the game. 
3. Power Drain: Psyker suffers 1 wound/glancing hit no saves. if its the psychic phase, both players lose d3 warp charge points 
4. Psychic Backlash: Psyker suffers 1 wound/glancing hit no saves.
5. Empyric Feedback: Psyker takes a leadership test. if failed Psyker suffers 1 wound/glancing hit no saves. If passed no effect.
6. Warp Surge: Psyker takes a leadership test. if failed Psyker suffers 1 wound/glancing hit no saves. If passed psyker gains a 3+ invul, fleshbane, armour bane, and smash until the next friendly psychic phase.

7th Ed Psychic Powers!

The new 7th edition psychic powers leaked today and there are a number interesting points herein. Of note is that the Sanctic Daemonology powers are really fascinating. On the whole they're easier to cast than the counterpart Malefic powers, although on the surface it seems they are not as incredible as summoning troops with wargear or summoning greater daemons. I do see that they match up well with many Grey Knight units, however. A 2++ on Draigo would be incredible. Or 4++ on Terminators would be very helpful. Teleporting slow-moving units like Terminators or Henchmen via Gate of Infinity looks like a powerful tactic as well. And then of course the big surprise is...Vortex of Doom with a Stength D profile! That looks very worth a possible failure and perils.

Other changes worth note are that Misfortune is much less useful now, especially to Eldar. I doubt I'd even keep it if I rolled it. Biomancy has some amazing powers and the ones that were good before only got better. Iron Arm is beyond amazing now that it gives a flat +3 to both S and T. Telepathy got worse in some respects, particularly Hallucination and the loss of Puppet Master, but Invisibility is still very good and Psychic Shrierk, which was my favorite anyway, picked up another six inches of range. Shrouding looks great, but if you read carefully it only buffs models within six inches of the psyker. I don't see it as a great option unless used to protect vehicles or unless used from inside a vehicle.

I like the look of many Telekinesis powers too. Again, some those would work great with Grey Knights. Using Levitation to position shooting units into their sweet spot 24" range stands out as a good option. Sorry for all the GK-centric thoughts, them and Inquisition are the only Imperial armies I really play. Anyway, have a look for yourself. There's a lot to gleam here.

Edit: to get the pictures to display large enough to read the text I'm finding I have to open them in new tabs first. FYI.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Finally getting around to posting about my game! 2k Eldar vs Eldar

I was already planning to visit friends in Tokyo about a month back, but out of nowhere I got a free day off on a Friday and I got some 40k in too. What a lucky break! Scott and I are slugged it out with the most brutal lists we could put together at 2000 points. I laid down my ForgeDar Council to see how it would fare against him without allies. Here's my list.


  • Farseer - Jetbike, Spear
  • Farseer - Jetbike
  • 8 Warlocks - Jetbikes, 1 Spear


  • 5 Dire Avengers
    • Wave Serpent - TL Scatter Laser, Underslung Shuriken Cannon
  • 5 Dire Avengers
    • Wave Serpent - TL Scatter Laser, Underslung Shuriken Cannon

Fast Attack

  • Nightwing Interceptor
  • 2 Hornets - Dual Pulse Lasers, One with Holos
  • 2 Hornets - Dual Pulse Lasers, One with Holos

Heavy Support

  • Pheonix Bomber
  • 2 War Walkers - Scatter Laser/Bright Lance
  • War Walker - Scatter Laser/Bright Lance
2000 Total Points, 13 Kill Points, 2 Scoring Units

Not having Dark Eldar presents some of the old challenge in using the Seer Council (no Hit and Run). And it makes my powers less reliable (no Grisly Trophies). Part of what we were trying to do was test ways of bringing down the Council when it is backed by a powerful list, but not by the Baron.

Opposing Eldar:


  • Spiritseer
  • 3 Warlocks on Jetbikes, 2 Spears


  • 5 Wraithguard with D-Scythes
    • Wave Serpent - Scatter Laser, Holofields
  • 5 Wraithguard with D-Scythes
    • Wave Serpent - Scatter Laser, Holofields
  • 3 Jetbikes with a Shuriken Cannon
  • 3 Jetbikes with a Shuriken Cannon
  • 3 Jetbikes with a Shuriken Cannon

Fast Attack

  • 2 Hornets - Dual Pulse Lasers
  • Nightwing Interceptor

Heavy Support

  • Falcon - Scatter Laser, Shuriken Cannon, Holofields
  • Warp Hunter - Holofields
  • Warp Hunter - Holofields

Basically our idea was to force the Council to roll a lot of 4++ saves against the Wraithguard and Warp Hunter templates. There is also a good amount of firepower coming in from other platforms on the other side. If the Council were dwindled down, my relatively low AV force might be dealt with over the course of the game.

I failed to roll either Fortune or Protect. And getting too focused on trying to Fortune I forgot to roll for Prescience and Psychic Shriek. I was off to a bad start. Then I lost the roll for first turn and failed to seize. This was basically the worst case scenario for the army I brought.

Scott's Saim Hann force. A work in progress, and I think his best painting to date.
But what we found was that while my opponent made a few mistakes in his movement phase, particularly putting long ranged assets too close (he's used to Dark Eldar skimmers with rifles firing from the inside) and his D-Scythe Wraithguard too far, it wasn't of great consequence that I lost a lot of my Council. What I had been wary of was him hammering even 2-3 models with 5 templates with both units. That could cripple the Council without even accounting for firepower coming from his vehicles. Instead the Wraithguard were too far away to lean on their optimal target and he had to fire on the Council with his Hornets and tanks. That spared my own vehicles a lot of damage. His battle tanks were also too close to avoid getting assaulted by the few Witchblades that remained, meaning that despite hurting the unit badly they were still causing roughly the same damage they would have at full strength.

Council casualties and their following assaults. Scott's Hornets really pounded them. We found Hornets to be obscenely powerful in this game, especially when Guided.
I discovered a few things about my list in this game. The Council is as amazing as always at killing vehicles with weak rear armor. While I think it would have been too diminished to fight large units of infantry or other tarpit units, I think it is likely armies with points invested in those units would have a hard time hammering the Council at long range. A list like that may not be able to deal with my Serpents, Hornets, Walkers and Flyers as well. It might also not have the ability to ignore cover which is huge in dealing effectively with a Fortuned 2+ Council, which before the game started was a very real concern.

Fielding a Council in my ForgeWorld mech list basically throws a wrench into target priority for my opponent. It takes very specific tools to bring it down. Even if it doesn't have a 2+ and 2+ cover, and even if it doesn't have Fortune, at long range you need to use weapons with AP 2/3 to kill them effectively and that keeps my mech elements mostly unmolested. Ignoring the Council, especially when there is a nice opportunity when they don't have Fortune up, can spell doom for many armies as well.

I also discovered that Pheonix Bombers are much better than the internet seems to believe. I've seen any number of times that people advise taking Nightwings instead for better jink saves, similar firepower and cheaper costs. But similar firepower is so untrue in my opinion. With the missile launchers you get a lot more shots at very good AP. I found my Bomber could basically remove a unit of Wraithguard every turn. And I'd be comfortable shooting it at almost anything: vehicles, weakly armored troops, other planes, really anything but AV14.

Before flyers.
After flyers. Cleared a Serpent and WG unit.
And finally what I learned is that even though I love the Council I built and using its rules is really ridiculously fun, I can't see what place it has in 40k generally. Most armies can't deal with it, especially not when it is backed up by a powerful force. I already felt like it clearly doesn't belong in casual games, but even when you tailor specifically to it and field a quite brutal army it throws off the balance of the game too much in my opinion. It takes a lot of force to destroy even when it doesn't have any of the powers that make it durable. And it takes very specific equipment even if you apply the force. You really need both AP2 and ignores cover and there aren't many armies that can wing that. Even if they can, I don't like it when a battle can be compared so easily to paper, rock, scissors. It's a strategy game, after all, and strategy ought to win the day.

I think I'm done using my Council, and likely my Forge World units, in all but Apoc battles. Fun as they are there just aren't many situations where they are fair. For most of 5th edition I played feeling like within reason (ie as long as you're not facing utterly ridiculous lists from the few top tier books at the time), superior strategy would win out. But the game is clearly not balanced for competitive list-building under 6th when there are units that deal a lot of damage and are essentially unkillable to a lot of armies. I suppose that's just something I have to learn to accept. Hopefully it draws me back toward aspect warriors because then I wouldn't need to paint or build anything to keep my lists up-to-date.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A Brutal ForgeDar Mech List at 1500

Here is a list that I wrote recently when I found out Hornets got buffed. I have run a variant of this, but with the Hornet changes that list dropped so much in points that I could fit in a lot more potency.


  • Farseer - Jetbike, Mantle of the Laughing God
  • 5 Dire Avengers
    • Wave Serpent - TL Scatter Laser, Underslung Shuriken Cannon, Holofields
  • 5 Dire Avengers
    • Wave Serpent - TL Scatter Laser, Underslung Shuriken Cannon, Holofields
Fast Attack
  • Nightwing Interceptor
  • 2 Hornets - 2 x Pulse Lasers, 1 Holofield Upgrade
  • 2 Hornets - 2 x Pulse Lasers
Heavy Support
  • Pheonix Bomber - Anti-infantry Missile Upgrade
  • 2 War Walkers - Scatter Laser and Bright Lance
  • 1 War Walker - Scatter Laser and Bright Lance
1500 Total Points, 2 Scoring Units, 11 Kill Points
Shooting Potency: 2-14 S7, 38 S6, 23 S8/AP2

The idea is to flood the board with AV hulls and strong long-ranged shooting. The Farseer should be casting Guide and Prescience on the Hornets and I'd probably pick up Psychic Shriek for his third power. That makes my first choice powers the ones I can definitely get.

Speed is of the essence. Not only does the list have two hard-hitting fliers with vector-dancer, but it also has Hornets that can flat out and still snap fire. With rerolls to hit and their volume of fire, they should still be able to take some good crucial shots against back armor. This is even better against flyers since you have to snap fire at them anyway and many flyers have AV10 in the back.

"But you only have two troops!" This is a problem for sure, especially considering that my two troops are as soft as they come when their Serpents crash. It basically means that in objective games I have to crush the enemy's troops. Wave Serpents are fortunately very durable, so that may help me keep those Dire Avengers alive until I need them. Depending on how I perceive the enemy's ability to bring down my Serpents and kill or strand my DAs, I can play more or less defensively with them.

There are plenty lists that could give this one some challenge, particularly if the ForgeDar had to go second. With a list focused on shooting capability it is just so beneficial to strike first and negate some of the stuff that can bring down AV 10-11 targets easily. Still, it's a really brutal list that was for some reason made much better than it even needed to be when IA: Aeronautica upgraded the jink save for Nightwings and IA: Apocalypse 2013 updated and improved Hornets.

Hornets are actually something I want to post about later on because the changes to them were astounding, to put it lightly. But that will have to wait for another day.